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A Better Way . . .

The Collaborative Divorce Team Members

....includes family law specialists, counselors and financial experts from throughout Hartford, Windham and Tolland Counties of Connecticut.


  CDP updates brochure, "What Is Collaborative Divorce". Free to Connecticut residents.   CDP launches new website with expanded information and member updates . . .
  Collaborative Divorce Professionals weclomes new members to the team . . .

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Collaborative family law recognizes that, unlike most law suits, divorces and other family law matters involve relationships that have long histories. Many of these connections will also need to extend well into the future, especially when children are involved. The traditional court based divorce process is not set up with these relationships in mind.

Often, more damage is done to parents, children and extended families by the traditional court based divorce process than by any other event associated with a divorce. For this reason, the collaborative process includes attorneys, coaches, child specialists and financial professionals as part of the team. The purpose of the collaborative team is to guide the parties through this major life transition.


Each participant has an attorney to advise him or her on legal issues.

In the court based model, the attorney's job is to attempt to convince a judge to give his or her client what the client wants, often at substantial cost. Typically, this means that the parties are, from the beginning of a case until the end, focused on everything they hate about each other. They may feel that they have to present the other person in the worst possible light to gain an advantage for themselves. Sometimes clients are not well educated about their options, so they do not realize that there may be more than one way to get a satisfactory result. Attorneys who have litigated family law cases know that no one wins and everyone loses - especially children - if relationships are destroyed by the fight.

Attorneys practicing collaborative family law have received specialized training to convert their advocacy skills from those used in litigation to those that better serve the cooperative effort in which the parties and the collaborative team are engaged. Attorneys trained in collaborative divorce refocus the parties on their common goals: to be able to meet their future financial needs; to have well-adjusted children who get the very best of what each parent has to offer; and to be able to move forward with their lives with dignity, in a way that causes as little disruption and trauma as possible for everyone in the family.


Coaches are involved in collaborative family law cases in several roles as neutral professionals. These professionals, who are often mental health professionals, are not engaged to provide psychotherapy, but may serve a variety of roles, depending on the clients' needs:
    Divorce Coach: The parties may share or each of the divorcing parties may have a separate divorce coach who will serve to assist the client in making sound decisions by helping the client to manage their various emotions during a very stressful time. The clients, along with their divorce coach(es) may also meet together to craft the parenting plan. The parenting plan is the portion of the final settlement agreement that specifies all of the issues related to the children. The parenting plan will cover such topics as parenting time, holiday schedule, vacations, decision making, conflict resolution, etc. The divorce coach(es) will offer their professional opinions to guide the parties toward a plan that will work in the best interest of the children involved.

    Communication difficulties are often present in divorcing couples. The divorce coach(es) will serve to educate the parties in how to communicate effectively with their divorcing spouse during the divorce process, and most importantly, after the actual divorce. The divorce coach(es) are always looking out for the long term interests of the various members of the divorcing family.

    In some situations it may become necessary for the divorce coach(es) to attend client-attorney and /or financial meetings to assist the clients in expressing their own needs and concerns as well as help the client understand the material presented.

    Child Specialist: When children are involved the child specialist is a valuable resource in assisting the parents in understanding the needs of the children and their emotional response to the pending divorce. When a child specialist is retained, the child specialist will meet with the parents to get input into their concerns for their children. During that meeting the child specialist will also obtain a developmental history of the child(ren) to assess for any special needs. The child specialist will then meet with the children to discuss their understanding and adjustment to the news of the pending divorce. The children may see the child specialist for a number of sessions to assist them in their adjustment to the new family situation.


Neutral financial professionals such as Certified Public Accountants (CPA), Certified Financial Planners (CFP), Charter Financial Consultant (ChFC), and Certified Divorce Financial Advisors (CDFA) or Pension Attorneys help the parties organize and work with financial information during their collaborative divorce. They help the parties to gather, organize, identify, understand and analyze financial information relevant to their property division.

Qualified financial neutrals can provide specialized financial and tax advice concerning the impact of legal decisions on each party's current and future financial condition. Some financial professionals trained in the collaborative family law process also bring specialized expertise to cases involving retirement benefits, valuation and property classification. Many times the financial expert will help clients understand numbers, predict their future needs and create a range of options they and their collaborative attorneys may wish to consider in considering possible agreements.

In the collaborative process, financial professionals are hired jointly by the parties, so they maintain their neutrality. Collaborative practice financial professionals are compensated strictly on a fee-for- service basis, so their compensation for their involvement in the collaborative process cannot be tied to the sale of investment products, investment advice or commissions. Often, clients meet (together or separately) with the collaborative financial professional outside of joint meetings to make the most efficient use of the team's time and the clients' resources.
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Jan. 3, 2011